Written in 1872 as part of a play, the popularity of “Bože Pravde” helped to have it officially adopted as the Serbian anthem in 1904, after Serbia became an independent nation in the 1880s. Upon forming the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later to be called Yugoslavia) in 1918, “Bože Pravde” was retained as the anthem of the Serbs within the federation. In fact, the first anthem of the federation, in use until 1945, uses part of “Bože Pravde” in the melody to represent the Serbs of the land.

After World War II, “Bože Pravde” continued to be popular with Serbs, and identified as their anthem. During the Yugoslav civil war in the 1990s, Serbian areas that broke away from Croatia (Krajina) and Bosnia (Srpska) also used “Bože Pravde” upon their creation to identify themselves as a Serbian state. In August, 2004, 18 months after Yugoslavia became the new federation of Serbia and Montenegro, “Bože Pravde” was recommended as Serbia’s anthem by the Serb national assembly and was constitutionally adopted upon the dissolution of the union and the regaining of Serbian independence in 2006. Although the anthem has four verses officially, it is usually only the first that is performed.

The original lyrics, present in the former Yugoslav anthem, refer to the Serbian monarchy, which was replaced with a republican-style government in 1945. The current lyrics of the Serbian anthem replace the references to the king with references to the Serbian race. The music of the anthem is by a Slovene, Davorin Jenko.

Special thanks to: Aleksandar Rakovic for some of this information.